Berea Baptist Church History
Attala County, Mississippi

Exact date of the church's organization has not been established but land deed records books show that on October 2, 1858, Joshiah W. Kimbrough and wife, M .E., deeded to Berea Baptist Church three acres for "as long as used for church purposes".

In information taken from a notebook kept by Mrs. Ruby Hines of Kosciusko, while working on WPA Projects in Attala County, she recorded from a conversation from someone in the community in 1939, that the first old log church, built before the Civil War, was located two miles Southeast of the present church. It was moved after the Civil War to a spot east of the Natchez Trace.

With the coming of the Natchez Trace Parkway the church was moved west of the then proposed Natchez Trace Parkway and services were held in the old building until the present facility could be built.

Land deed records also reveal that J. D. Cole deeded to the church and their successors, one acre on the 29th of January 1890. Deacons at the time of that transaction were A. Taylor, William Cole and P. T. Killpatrick.

The three and one-half acres on which the church is now located was deeded to the church by Chalmers Seawright and wife Mary Long Seawright on April 21, 1938.

Earliest activities of the church found on record were in 1895. Minutes of the Attala Baptist Association of 1895 named Berea delegates to the associational meeting at Providence as J. L. Whatley, J. J. Allen, J. H. Veazey, A. L. Rainwater and the Rev. J. L. Wilson, who was serving as pastor. Membership of the church was 71.

In 1896, J. C. Thompson was listed as the pastor. In 1898, Berea Church hosted the associational meeting. The church was then under the leadership of the Rev. S. W. Sproles. The membership was 98 and the pastor was paid a total of $75 for the year.

In 1908, B. F. Wallace was pastor, followed through the years by Harvey McCool, R. L. Wallace, B. Thweatt, Alan Neil, W. J. McPhail, J. W. White, L. A. Roebuck, a. E. Lucas, A. D. Muse, D. I. Young, G. F. Heare, J. A. Patridge. The Rev. J. W. White served as pastor from 1927 through 1935 and has the record of having served the longest tenure as pastor.

Following the Rev. White was J. S. Deal, J. C. Porter, H. H. Ward, B. O. Odom, W. A. Williams, N. F. Greer, R. H. Cherry, H. C. Breland, J. L. Rasberry, E. C. Horton, S. D. Butler, Woodrow Clark, Sammy Ray, Edward Bowles, Wayne Edwards, Leroy Arnett, Jerry Slonaker.___________ Church member ship in 1980 stood at 170.

The largest membership on record reached 199 during the pastorate of the Rev. N. F. Greer in 1947.

A Sunday School has been held consistently since the early 1920's. Associational minutes list the Sunday School enrollment as 64 in 1923 with A. L. Veazey as superintendent.

BYPU (Baptist Young Peoples Union) was organized in August 1933 with L. D. Long as president; Ethel Milner, vice-president; Eva Godfrey, secretary; Euginia Long, corresponding secretary; Kirk Godfrey, treasurer; Ethel Milner, pianist; Lonnie Mitchell, choir leader; Lorena Bailey, Lonnie Mitchell, group captains; Don Milner, Bible readers leader.

Other church auxiliaries which have been held in the church at various times have included WMU, RA. GA and Sunbeams. Mrs. Avery Peeler headed the WMU as president in 1950 and Mrs. Roland May in 1951. By 1952 minutes indicated that the WMU had become inactive.

Serving as church clerks have been R. L. Williams, B. W. Veazey, L. B. Milner, Mrs. L. B. Milner, C. C. Proctor, L. D. Long, L. C. Mitchell, Don Milner, M. E. Procter, B. S. Mikell, Roland May, John D. Hopkins, Mrs. Max Kirkpatrick, Joel Kirkpatrick and Mrs. Virgie Proctor.

Don Milner has the longest tenure as church clerk. He served in this position in 1936 and again continuously from 1939 through 1957.

In addition to the three deacons who were listed as serving at the time of the deed transaction in 1890, others have been M. I. Rhodes, W. R. Veazey, Al. L. Veazey, W. S. Chapman, L. B. Milner, S. E. Newsom, Don Milner, Henry Parish, Alies Peeler, Garnes McMillan, Everett Proctor, Roland May, John D. Hopkins, Kenneth Nowell, Vernon Nunn, Charles Nowell, Thomas Ward and Roy Moore.

The coming of the Natchez Trace Parkway necessitated the building of the present church. In October 1937, B. S. Mikell and Edgar Newsom were selected by the church to help the community on selecting the ground for the church and settlement with the Federal Parkway.

Early in 1938, the church asked for sealed bids for moving the old church and the building of a new one.

The next record concerning the undertaking was on June 26, 1938, when the minute books show that the church paid $140 to Mr. Herrington for moving the old church to the new site and a $10 gift. On that date they also paid $1055 to Mr. McGowan and $190 for building and painting and material for seats. The church was reported complete according to minutes of the business session. A $10 gift was recorded from Barge Lumber Co., $10 gift from Mr. and Mrs. Grady Ramsey to purchase a rug to be placed in front of the pulpit.

The old church that was moved from the east side of the Trace occupied a spot near the cemetery for a number of years. It was used for Sunday School rooms, a voting precinct, and also as a place for recreation. When it was torn down, materials were salvaged and used for the building of the present community building located adjacent to the church.

With the growth of the church, a need was realized for additional Sunday School rooms. On January 13, 1952, the Rev. J. L. Rasberry appointed Roland May, John D. Hopkins and Mrs. Irene Jones as the committee to check on expenses of adding rooms at the rear of the church.

On February 10, 1952 Mrs. Irene Jones reported to the church that $92.25 had been pledged toward the new Sunday School rooms. On March 9, 1952 the church voted to commence the building. The church also voted in 1952 to build a concrete walk and steps at the front of the church for a total of $100.

On June 14, 1953, homecoming was held at the church and the new addition was dedicated. The Rev. H. H. Ward preached during the morning service and the Rev. Cherry in the afternoon.

The next improvements on the church started in October 1967 when the congregation voted to undertake a remodeling project. The result was the renovation of the sanctuary with paneled walls, new ceiling and floor tile, carpeted isle and new pews.

Further church expansion was the addition on the north side of the building in the form of a fellowship hall, bathrooms and kitchen. A well on the grounds was also included in this project. It was begun under the leadership of the Rev. Arnett with members of the congregation doing the work. The project was completed under the direction of the Rev. Slonaker.

An event of significance in the 1950's was the ordination of Carlis Braswell to the gospel ministry. On March 23, 1953, the ordination council met for the purpose of examining Carlis. Following their approval he was ordained with the Rev. Frank Morgan, Jr., preaching the sermon and the Rev. E. C. Horton giving the ordination prayer.

No record was found of how the name Berea originated. There is the possibility that it could have been derived from Bethel. A marker on the Natchez Trace Parkway across from the church indicated that the Bethel Mission or "house of God" was a place of worship used by the Indians. Perhaps it could have originated there or from the Biblical Berea.

Complied by Nancy Seawright Green
July 1980 for Homecoming
Taken from "Echoes From Berea" a newsletter from the church May/June 2001

The history of the Berea Baptist Church was prepared for the Homecoming celebration of 1980 and was compiled by Nancy Green.

This history of the Berea Baptist Church was submitted to Attala County MSGenWeb on June 13, 2003 by Jeannine Smith.

Click on the following link to read 'My Memories of Our Church' by Henry L. Parish, Deacon of the Berea Baptist Church.

My Memories of Our Church

copyright © 2003 by Everette Carr. All rights reserved.